PSU’s Most Unique Gen-Ed Classes

Photo from officialmobilefreq on Flickr. Cropped for fit.

Did you know there was a whole course at Penn State dedicated to a video game about outer space? Or the classes that go skiing and snowboarding on Tussey Mountain every week? There’s even one where the whole syllabus is learning to garden – and you get to take the plants home with you! Just in time for scheduling classes for the fall semester, here’s a list of some interesting classes to consider adding to your list!

ASTRO 7N: The Artistic Universe

Starting off with one of the best facts about ASTRO 7N, it is an interdomain! Combining the general education subjects of art (A) and natural sciences (GN), this class is completely online – and was before the pandemic. Students download a free video game that walks them through various astronomical topics and quizzes them in-game on what they learned. There are also a few art projects involved, in which students create their own astronomy-based designs.

SOC 119N: Race, Ethnicity and Culture

Another interdomain, and arguably one of the most famous classes Penn State has to offer, SOC 119 combines social & behavioral sciences (GS) and humanities (GH), and also fulfills both the United States cultures requirement (US) and the international cultures requirement (IL). The course is designed to address racial and cultural issues throughout the world in a largely interactive format that has been deemed interesting enough to warrant a YouTube page for the sections taught by Samuel Richards. Check out the YouTube page here and the Twitch page they use for livestreams here.

AFAM 126N: The Popular Arts in America: The History of Hip-Hop

The last interdomain on today’s list combines arts (A) and humanities (GH) for an in-depth look at the historical significance and development of hip-hop. Also fulfilling a United States cultures requirement (US), the course covers the “four foundational elements of hip-hop (rap, DJ arts, graffiti & visual arts, dance)” along with many other aspects of the genre’s history.

PLANT 220: Gardening for Fun and Profit

Fulfilling a natural sciences requirement (GN), PLANT 220 is entirely designated to teaching students the fundamentals of gardening – no prior experience needed! Another great bonus of the class is that students even get to keep the plants they garden in class, which provides quite the incentive to do well in this very hands-on and interactive class.

KINES 11: Snowsports: Downhill Skiing & KINES 12: Snowsports: Snowboarding

Though they aren’t listed for the fall 2021 semester, KINES 11 and 12 are really cool options for those looking to learn how to ski or snowboard. Held once a week at Tussey Mountain, there are additional fees for equipment and the use of Tussey’s facilities, but if you’re really interested, these courses offer a super unique way to fulfill that health and wellness requirement (GHW).


Another odd GHW option offered by the kinesiology department at Penn State is KINES 45, which is a course on SCUBA diving. Though there is an additional fee for the SCUBA equipment, it’s not nearly as hefty as the skiing and snowboarding fees, so it could certainly be worth the price even if you’re not that passionate about SCUBA diving. Either way, the course is another super interesting hands-on experience that many Penn State students don’t know about.

Have you taken any of these classes, or do you plan to in the fall? VALLEY would love to know what you think of them! Tweet us your experience @VALLEYmag or tag us in your posts on Instagram @VALLEYmag.



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